It’s not the one year anniversary
or anything but I’m uploading this anyway…
There are spoilers beyond this
point so if you belong to the last 31 people on Earth that haven’t seen it yet
be warned. To start, keep in that I adore Pixar. When they’re at their best
they create some of the best films of all time. Yes, that includes whatever
grey-scale dad-bod Oscar bait is gonna roll out this year. I believe Pixar
movies are on a spectrum, some are better than others. However, that spectrum
is above and beyond the spectrum of their competitors. Pixar pleases us with
bright and colorful entertainment while challenging us intellectually and
emotionally. They have proven this time and time again.
For that reason I rate Incredibles
2 as a great family summer superhero blockbuster, but unfortunately not a great
Pixar film. The first was both of those things. I scrutinized and critiqued the
first Incredibles for years now. But this sequel teaches me the hard way why
that first film was so successful and why we eagerly awaited for a decade and
half for this one.
For better and worse this film
echoes and shares a lot of same material as the first one and therefore serves
as a familiar grading metric going forward.
OH HOW CAN YOU HATE INCREDIBLES TWO
IT WAS SO GOOD YOU’RE JUST A HATER. That’s the thing. This is by no means a
“bad” movie. This isn’t a Transformers 5 or a Fant4stic. There are so many
things in this movie to commend and give credit to. Starting with the visual
appeal. YOU CAN’T JUST GIVE A BIG BUDGET MOVIE A THUMBS UP BECAUSE IT LOOKS
GOOD. If we have learned anything in the last 20 years it is that a studio can
have all the money in the world and the film can still look like hot garbage
and be stylistically bland. Yeah, the new character models take time to get
used to, but the quality of the animation and attention to detail, from the shadows
in the apartment to Violet’s hair, were indicative of the time and care put
into making this movie an undeniable dynamic spectacle. Every setting and
character had an appropriate touch to it that serves a purpose to the plot. I
could go on. But visually this film went so far beyond “ooo look at us we have
state of the art technology and 200 million dollars.”
These actions sequences are amongst
the best the genre has to offer. Pixar knows that there is more to a these
scenes than Superman brainlessly hurling mountains to blow up the moon or
whatever. No. Characters utilize their abilities in creative and interesting
ways. Some moments feel like Overwatch or League of Legends, where skillsets
play off each other in intriguing synergies. Each sequence, though some feel
clichéd (oh no we have to stop the train….. again), had a distinct atmosphere
and rhythm to them. Pixar takes simple, easy to follow powers and identities
and explores the possibilities of them.
Both of these positives should be
praised, no matter what you think of this movie. Pixar didn’t have to do this.
They could have easily just let the computer crap out glossy animation with no
spirit or artistic flare to it. They could have easily just had loud, noisy,
tactless action scenes were charters just pummel each other like any normal
human would. In a lot of ways this felt like a true comic book movie, as if the
stills of a comic book came to life.
Oh the music? What about it? It was
amazing. Moving on.
This film was “incredible.” Funny,
entertaining, high-spirited, with its own unique identity. But what truly set
aside the first one and what I felt was missing from this one was the quality
of the storytelling, character development and emotional depth that defines
It’s not the WHAT of this plot that
I have a problem with so much as the HOW. These aren’t bad ideas, but the grace
and subtly of storytelling Pixar executes on a regular basis just isn’t there.
The structure and pacing of the first movie is very underrated. The characters
and audience discover information in an organic and gradual progression. In
this film it seems major plot points and solutions to problems are just
monologued to the audience or Elasta-Girl simply Jimmy-Neutron brainblasts to
unravel mysteries. Everything comes so fast and so easy. The film seems to rush
its way through A-plot material in order to get to the next Jack-Jack scene or
the next snoring Mr. Incredible shot. I normally don’t discredit a movie for
the premise of the story it tells. But swapping the roles of Mr. and Mrs.
Incredible isn’t enough to distract from the fact that this is very familiar
territory. There we so many highs, so many exciting thrilling moments of
triumph but they didn’t land with the sense of reward as in the first… why?
They weren’t as earned. I’m not saying every movie needs a dark edgy moment
like when Mr. Incredible belived that his family was murdered or he discovered
a superhero genocide, but this time round the sense of adversity or danger was
definitely lacking. We didn’t really grow with these characters because for the
most part they didn’t grow themselves. And by the end of the picture we end up
exactly where we started thematically, visually, world-status-wise-ish, and in
terms of character arcs.
I’ll start with Dash. I actually
loved his character in the first one, he’s annoying and cringy yeah but there
is something endearing and sadly very real about a gifted confused child that
is held from what he loves to do because of societal norms and standards. I was
disappointed that in this film he is mostly around to just set up or deliver
punchlines, almost like the Bruce Banner in Infinity War.
I’m probably in the minority here,
but I actually really enjoyed Violet’s subplot with Tony and Mr. Incredible. It
was the few times that the cost of being a superhero directly impacted a
personal life in an original way and tangible way. It also gave Mr. Incredible
the chance to use what he learned in the first movie to be a better parent.
However, both of the kids were
given a similar challenge to do as in the first one. Yes, the odds were stacked
high up against them and it was pretty hype to watch them use Jack-Jack and the
Incredicar or whatever to save their parents. But in terms of character they
were simply rising to the occasion and maturing into superheroes as we’ve seen
them do before without the personal obstacles they had to overcome in the first
Mr. Incredible was confusing in a
way. And this has to do with some peculiar logical inconsistencies I’ll delve
into later. I suspend a lot of disbelief while watching movies, but I can’t
really buy how he is THIS incompetent and reluctant of a father on his thirds
superhero child. I know its for comedic affect but considering that he wasn’t
superheroing for 15 years and presumably just sitting around his house all day
it’s strange to see him THIS overwhelmed. I‘ll need to see the movie one or two
more times but he seemed to take too much of a back seat for me to really care
for him. There are moments where he demonstrates growth in his character arc
and other points where he oddly relapses. Luckily for all them they can reunite
and bond as a family by punching bad guys instead of really solving their
problems and differences.
Frozone was great woohoo. So were the
secondary characters. I’m not into Jack-Jack humor but there’s plenty of it if
that’s your thing. Elon Musk or Winston Deavor or Saul Goodman whatever you
want to call him was cool, even though it was strange how he didn’t know what
his sister was up to or that his absence in the first one is never explained.
His flashback story was interesting but pretty forced in presentation,
whatever… back to what’s more important.
This was supposed to be
Elasta-Girl’s movie. There is no problem
with that. But undergoing a Mr. Incredible-esque mid-life crisis/return to the
spotlight without the freshness or nuance off the first one is a disservice to
the character we have come to know over the course of time. What really makes
her intriguing is how she moved on from her role as the IT GIRL superhero in order
to focus on being a mother. It felt odd to me that after everything that was
set up about her in the first one that she would just be like “oooo wowie a
motorcycle lol im such a hypocrite haha” then just cycle off. OH BUT JAMES SHE
HAD THOSE LINES ABOUT-
And that’s my biggest problem with
this movie and a lot of the characters. As well as its thematic substance. They
just say things and hint at things. They just kinda ramble about what they are
feeling but never do anything to express and confront those concerns until time
runs out and they have to boom boom pow the villain.
Now about this villain. I’ve heard
so many times around the internet that this is a film that harkens back to an
era when superhero films focused on the hero and the adversary was more of a
formality. That’s fine with me. But in those movies the villain is simple,
coherent, and effective. The screen-slaver had a lot of potential. I liked her
surface personality and character model. The themes, ideas, and motivations
were fresh and interesting in comparison to like… Steppenwolf or some shit. Her
capabilities made for thrilling action sequences that were different from the
first one. However, the way she carried herself as a villain and the way she
explained herself made her out to be the kind of villain Syndrome and the
heroes would make fun of and parody during the first one. “YOU SLY DOG YOU GOT
ME MONOLOGUING” “AND THE WORLD WILL SOON BE HIS” For being a crafty, enigmatic,
idgaf-type person she was far too straight forward and transparent to Mrs.
Incredible. I know there was an attempt to make them seem like two sides of the
same coin. They were painting her as the villain FOR Mrs. Incredible but the fact
that a lot of that connection rode on quips and witty dialogue scenes that fly
by in a matter of moments, they’re final confrontation just doesn’t feel earned
Now I guess I’ll just go on a rant
about random nitpicks that didn’t make much sense to me. I don’t usual critique
a movie this way. This is pretty low brow. How the hell do they not know that
Jack Jack has powers? Why didn’t the agent guy that looks like Tommy Lee Jones
tell them they had to mindwipe the baby sitter and they need to watch out for
Jack-Jack? On the voicemail Mrs. Incredible listened to in the first one how
did she not realize that was what the babysitter was screaming about? How did
they not see Jack-Jack messin with Syndrome at the end of the first one? The
screen-slaver’s hypno screen thing is so overpowered. But those googles came
off in like 2 seconds. Why don’t just brainwash the lawmakers into making the
supers illegal? Why bother using the boat as a weapon? Just have them do
something bad on the ship.
What makes me most “upset” if you
will about this movie is that it was so fun at the same time, and it deserved
better storytelling and emotional weight. It was “Incredible” but it just
wasn’t as good as 14 years could have been. I’m not saying don’t go see it. See
it. Again, it’s wildly entertaining and funny. It introduces new ideas that
opens the door for a lot of possible stories in the future. The theater was
poppin. There was an event-movie atmosphere in the room that Infinity War was
supposed to have but just didn’t. I’m happy the audience has found the
enthusiasm to eat popcorn and enjoy a family film again.
Pixar isn’t in some creative slump or spiraling into mediocrity. But this could have been something truly compelling. Yeah, we go to good movies to laugh and have a good time. But Pixar, and Incredibles 2, can be so much more than that.